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The Media Mirror: what's in today's Russian newspapers?

The Middle East conference at Annapolis: a change of heart on the go. Russia and the U.S. explore new levels of confrontational rhetoric. Both topics are addressed by Russian newspapers.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA writes Washington failed to talk the leaders of Israel and Palestine into a consensus during pre-summit negotiations. That resulted in a change of subject at the conference. The paper says the Bush administration’s initial plan included an attempt at signing an Israeli-Palestinian Declaration that would name a preliminary date for the forming of the Palestinian state. Now the talk is of a final re-launch of negotiations and a good start to another stage of the Middle East settlement process.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA quotes the National Security Advisor of President Bush, Stephen Hadley, who says “a joint declaration by the Palestinian and Israeli sides is no longer critically important”. The paper comments that the conference that was planned as a serious step towards a positive solution of the Palestinian problem has lost that status even before opening. Now, continues the paper, it has become a mere signal to start negotiations which lack a definite address and a certain date.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI quotes its source in the Israeli delegation who says the final document of the conference was born in labour and pain. The Palestinian side wanted a clear statement about a date for the forming of the Palestinian state. The Israeli side did its best to cross all dates and numbers out.

KOMMERSANT writes the Annapolis conference, prone to produce quite vague results on the main subject of the agenda, has become a setting for another heated exchange of rhetoric between the U.S. and Russia. The paper says the U.S. attempts to put pressure on Russia “in order to help it return to the path of a stronger democracy”. In response to that the Russian President suggests it should stop sticking its nose into Russian affairs. That, continues the paper, is the beginning of a test of Russia-U.S. relations – a test by the election in Russia and by the new configuration of power that is going to emerge from it.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA says the exchange of rhetoric puts in jeopardy the decisions that the two nations will have to make together in the near future. Those decisions – on missile defence, Kosovo, Iran – won’t have any meaning if not taken in consensus. At the moment, continues the paper, we are well on the way to a chain reaction of confrontational behaviour.